So Close to Amazing: Stories of a DIY Life Gone Wrong . . . and Learning to Find the Beauty in Every Imperfection

So Close to Amazing: Stories of a DIY Life Gone Wrong . . . and Learning to Find the Beauty in Every Imperfection


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496422019
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 09/05/2017
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 257,745
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.90(d)

Read an Excerpt


leap before you look


Sometimes in the middle of all the ordinary, something extraordinary shows up.

I remember thinking at the time I was on some sort of supersized Christian version of Candid Camera.

You know.

The show where people are put into random situations with absolutely no idea someone is filming them, and in the middle of seeing a car without a driver or a person falling headfirst into a pie or movers carting off random mannequins from a store window, Allen Funt shows up with a camera crew.

Except in my daydream it was Billy Graham. Or the angel Gabriel.

Take your pick.

The Candid Camera daydream happened as I was sitting in a newly reupholstered church pew, plucking imaginary pieces of lint from the most amazing outfit combination: an asymmetrical jean skirt topped with a peasant blouse wrapped with a knitted shrug. And the icing on the outfit cake? A pair of lace-up gladiator sandals with tiny beads that shook as I crossed and uncrossed my legs.

It was an ensemble for the ages.

My outfit and I had spent the better part of the last twenty minutes acting like we weren't listening to the sermon. It was hitting a little too close to home. I was staring at the ceiling, mentally redesigning the banners hanging over the organ to resemble Gothic architecture and wondering if blue carpet was the best decor choice for the sanctuary.

But my heart?

It was listening to every word.

Our pastor was in the middle of a multipart sermon series about stepping back and letting go. For weeks he had been talking about the significance of placing God first in your life. In all things, in all ways, we are to acknowledge his sovereignty and trust him with our whole hearts. As we let go and release fear and doubt and worry and lean not on our own understanding, God will direct our paths (see Proverbs 3:5-6).

When I first read about the series in the bulletin, I almost stayed home, pulled the covers over my head, and slept in. Why go? I asked myself. You're already acknowledging and trusting and releasing and leaning. You've been over all this in last year's Bible study. Its nothing new.

I knew that Jesus was my Savior.

I had proclaimed him the Lord of my life.

I did my part at church. I helped with the choir and supported missions and sketched charts of Paul's second missionary journey and made hot dog potpie when someone was sick and planned all the Sunday school parties, complete with elaborate themes and games and a mix tape with the occasional choreographed song.

The Christian boxes? I had them all checked off.

So it was with a considerable degree of reluctance that I dragged myself to church that Sunday and found myself sitting in the pew with my arms crossed, one on top of the other, bracing myself for the sermon. I was pretty sure I had heard all this before. It wasn't new to me. I had been raised in church. I had played the nonsinging innkeeper's wife in the children's Christmas pageant. I knew all the stories and parables by heart. I could recite the story of Noah and the Flood and Jonah and the whale and Jesus feeding the five thousand. I'd been first in Bible Drill as a kid. I knew where to find Malachi. I'd made woven potholders for overseas missionaries. And in a pinch, when I needed a really good Bible verse, I could quote John 3:16 standing on one foot with my eyes closed.

But this message?

To my surprise, it was different.

That day I felt like the pastor was preaching directly to me. It was as if this entire sermon series had been written in longhand, tied to a carrier pigeon, and dropped directly onto my pew. The ironic thing? The carrier pigeon had perfect timing.

For months, my husband, Denton, and I had been talking about our family's future. It all began as an off-the-cuff discussion that turned into something so much more. We'd talk and plan and dream for hours about leaving everything behind and starting fresh in a place where the green grass grew and white clouds drifted overhead in blue skies and the cows lowed and the birds chirped and the air was filled with the smell of freshly cut hay. We wanted to jump into a new adventure and begin again in a place where we could see the stars in the night sky.

Our biggest challenge was that the jump didn't involve just us. There were other hearts to consider.

At ten, our oldest, Denton Jr., was a state capital expert, a reluctant soccer player, and captain of the neighborhood kickball games. He had come into this world bubbling over with joy. By the time he was two, he had twinkling brown eyes like his dad and an irresistible toothless grin. By the time he was three, he knew that Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and that Czechoslovakia isn't a country anymore and that the state fish of Hawaii is the humuhumunukunukuapua'a.

I'd dress him up in yard-sale overalls with a big plaid pocket in the front, tiny hiking boots, and a faded jean jacket with his name scrawled across the back. Then I'd perch him in the front of a Target shopping cart. We didn't have a dime to our name, so we window-shopped. With him in his overalls and me in my stirrup pants, we strolled down aisle after aisle of the store. He'd cheerfully peer out from under the brim of his baseball cap and wave at the other shoppers. They'd wave back, smile at me, and whisper to each other how cute he was.

I'd beam with pride and tell myself what an incredible mother I was. I'd look at this tiny human, sitting so politely in the shopping cart seat sharing his state-fish knowledge with anyone who would listen, and mentally pat myself on the back. It was official.

I was amazing.

Maybe I should write parenting books, I told myself. Maybe I should teach classes to other moms. Why hide my light under a bushel when I am obviously so successful in the mother department?

I lived in that self-congratulatory haze for three years.

Delusion was wonderful.


Until our next son came along.

Three years later, Zachary arrived on a wintry day in December, grabbing life by the tail and never letting go. He was mischievous and lively and energetic, and he never met a mountain he didn't want to climb. He represented. He stood up and was counted. His curiosity was boundless, and he devoured books like they were candy and believed that one day dinosaurs would rule the earth again. He bounced and giggled and rolled and skateboarded his way into our hearts, but he never, ever sat still in the seat of the red Target cart.

He peeled gum off the floor of the store instead.

And then? We thought we were done. We thought our family was complete. We were blessed with two boys who kept us on our toes and filled our lives to the brim with energy and enthusiasm. It was time to pack up the strollers and the burp cloths and the tiny mobile with the elephant that beeped. Then, on the brink of trading it all in for a basketball hoop, we discovered I was pregnant again.

With twins.

It was a challenging pregnancy. I contracted fifth disease in the first trimester, and at twenty-four weeks the twins were diagnosed with a condition that sometimes affects identical twins called twinto-twin transfusion syndrome. I spent over four weeks in the hospital on bed rest so the nursing staff could monitor the babies for signs of distress. At twenty-nine weeks, the situation became serious, and the doctors were forced to operate. Almost three months before their due date, I gave birth to tiny, premature twin girls weighing in at just over two pounds each.

Now our twin girls, Westleigh and Whitney, were four and full of sugar and spice. They were professional Sharpie wall-drawers and hostesses for tea parties, which they served to monkeys and elephants with giggles and laughter.

Westleigh Anne was born a minute before her sister and lived up to every letter of her name. She was an Anne, a tradition in our family. The oldest girl of the oldest girl was always an Anne, just like me and my mother and my grandmother before her. We Annes are known for our tenacity, inner strength, and ability to speak our minds, and she was no exception.

Her sister, Whitney, was the littlest of my children. The youngest. The tiniest basketball player with the biggest heart. She was the curly-haired tumbler, the dancer, the cartwheeler, the Scripture memorizer, and her sister's biggest cheerleader. And she never met a stray she didn't want to bring home and name after someone from the Bible.

For our children, Texas was home. It's where their school was, where their church was, where their friends were. And perhaps most of all, where they had grown up surrounded by a large extended family. A family who had attended every birthday, every muddy soccer game, every crowded school open house, and every school play where someone dressed up as a giant block of cheese.

Leaving would be a big adjustment.

After all, we'd grown up in Texas. It was all we knew. My husband was a pharmacist who worked for a nonprofit foundation in downtown Dallas. I ran a preschool at our local church. Our parents lived nearby. My brother and sister-i n-l aw lived down the street in a part of town where everyone knew your name. There were aunts and cousins and grandparents and parents who were on speed dial for babysitting or broken washing machines or leaking ceilings. There was always a helping hand extended or a shoulder to cry on or an inside joke to share.

Or some combination thereof.

We lived in a historic home we'd bought four years earlier. We'd completely renovated it, with a new bathroom and an inlaid kitchen floor so beautiful you'd say grace over it. It had twenty-one closets, four bedrooms, a tiny room just for the mail, and a backyard with room for a bicycle path.

The house was wonderful. Life was wonderful. Why would we ever want to move?

But somehow the word jump wiggled its way into our conversations.

Our hearts wanted to move. Denton and I had both lived in small towns when we were growing up, and we wanted that for our children, too. Denton had an hour-and-a-half commute each way, and he wanted a five-minute drive in the country instead. I wanted to garden and grow corn and wear aprons and walk in the back meadow with leaves crunching under my feet. We wanted our children to live without designer labels and cell phones and learn how to climb trees and fish in the creek.

At first we just talked about jumping at random times, in random places. We talked about moving to the country and what our house would look like and how I'd always wanted to own a goat. I remember having an entire discussion while waiting in line at Chuck E. Cheese's about what type of business we would open if we moved.

But that's all it was: a discussion.

Just a distant dream.

At the time, it didn't even seem like a remote possibility. There were too many obstacles, too many complications. And the questions were endless. How can we leave everything we know? What will we do to support ourselves? Aren't we adults? Shouldn't we be responsible and make responsible decisions? Isn't the smell of hay slightly overrated?

Would we even remember to look up and see the stars?

But slowly, as dreams sometimes do, this dream began to grow legs and take shape over the next few months. We found several business possibilities that looked like a good fit and narrowed our options down to certain areas of the country where we thought we could live. Arkansas and Oklahoma and Tennessee all made the cut. Each of these states offered a lower cost of living with acres of beautiful countryside and a business-friendly atmosphere. We discussed our financial picture and what we should list our house for to make the whole move work.

There were moments when I remember thinking, This is it. Today is the day. Were going to do it. Tell Pa to get the covered wagon and pack the quilts and the washboard. We are leaving it all behind and heading west.

We traveled up to Oklahoma and looked at a pharmacy we heard might be for sale. The area was beautiful, and the small town was perfect, with a main street right out of a movie. The gas station had the perfect mix of Diet Coke with tiny, crunchy ice. But we couldn't make the finances work. Other opportunities seemed too good to be true, or we were there too late, or something just didn't feel right.

It was an exhausting roller coaster.

In the end, nothing ever seemed to happen. There was always some overwhelming obstacle in our way or a decision that didn't feel right, and we never got farther than the front door.

At my niece's birthday party one year, between the chocolate cake and the "Happy Birthday" cha cha chas, I brought up the subject of moving.

"I heard about a house for sale in Kentucky," I tossed nonchalantly into conversation. "The cost of living is so much cheaper there, and I've always wanted to learn to ride a horse."

"A horse? Really?" my mother snorted. My dad grinned across the balloon arch. My brother rolled his eyes and cut another piece of cake. And me? I gazed off into the distance, as if willing the countryside to come to my front door.

Most of the time no one listened to us when we talked about moving. They'd glance at each other when we started in on our plans to jump, and they'd roll their eyes. We talked about it so much and for so long that no one really took us seriously anymore.

Truthfully? Maybe all we wanted to do was talk. And dream. And talk a little more. I'm not sure if either Denton or I thought we would actually do it. All I know is that if one day moving trucks pulled up to the house, I would have been the first one clinging to the columns on the front porch.

And then something happened that changed everything.

In the middle of all that talking and pontificating and waiting for the day we would pack up the covered wagon, an actual business proposal showed up. An independent pharmacy became available in a small town in Kentucky, and the owners wanted to know if we were interested in buying it. My husband would run the pharmacy, and I could manage the gift store.

It sounded like it might work. It sounded like a real possibility. But we had been sure before, too. Our hopes had been dashed over and over again. So with great trepidation, mixed with an extra helping of excitement, we packed our bags and headed to Kentucky for a visit.

We didn't mention our reconnaissance mission to our family. They had already heard it all before and probably wouldn't believe us anyway. Besides, it was time for a little less talk and a little more action. So, Denton and I packed our overnight bags into our minivan and headed toward the Bluegrass State.

We drove into town with a healthy dose of skepticism and our loopholes and excuses and reasons ready.

"Only an hour," we said to each other. "That's all we'll need. It's probably not even a good fit." But our hour turned into an afternoon, and our skepticism turned into hope, and our journey turned into a destination.

It was the perfect situation.

The pharmacy was a thriving business located in a small town at the edge of where the Ohio and Cumberland Rivers meet. The town had a rich history and a century-old courthouse and the remains of an inn where famous dignitaries had stayed. There was also a Civil War site and a bridge named after Thomas Jefferson's sister on the edge of town. The schools were good, and we found yummy pizza with extra toppings for only five dollars on Tuesdays at the gas station.

And the best part?

In the entire county where the pharmacy was located, there were no stoplights. Not a single one. The county did have two blinking yellow lights, even though one of them was broken. There were stop signs and deer crossing signs and congested area signs at the street corner where the old grocery store used to be.

After meeting with the owner of the pharmacy, my husband and I stood on the bank of the river and gazed at the clouds drifting by in the sky. We watched as tiny branches waved to and fro in the wind.

Neither of us spoke. It all just felt so right.

We turned and headed back to Texas with our heads in the clouds.

But before we crossed the Tennessee border, doubt started to creep in. We debated the pros and cons of a momentous decision like this one. Our discussion centered mostly on the cons.

We didn't have enough money.

It was so far away.

We didn't know anyone in the town.

The real estate market for buying and selling was almost nonexistent.

We would be leaving our family.

By the time we left Tennessee and crossed into Arkansas, we'd talked ourselves out of the plan. We decided to table it until later. And by later, I think we meant never. It was a decision to be filed away and marked with a label of someday.


Excerpted from "So Close to Amazing"
by .
Copyright © 2017 KariAnne Wood.
Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword xiii

Acknowledgments xvii

Introduction: How to Be Amazing xix

Leap before You Look 1

Knock, Knock; Who's There? 19

I Would Move SIX Hundred Miles 33

Every House Needs a Happily-Ever-After 51

Never Underestimate a Slippery Spaghetti Ring 69

A Floor without End 85

Trash-Talking 103

The Roast That Went to Garden Club 119

The Day Goliath Met a T. Rex 135

My Achilles Hips 151

Flooded with Possibilities 167

If You Blink, You'll Miss the French Fries 185

Epilogue 199

About the Author 201

What People are Saying About This

Rhoda Vickers

So Close to Amazing is a reminder that life is never perfect, always changing, and ever evolving, and that with faith, we can overcome the obstacles that simply living life brings our way. KariAnne invites readers into her witty and wonderfully wacky world of moving to the country in Kentucky with her husband and four children, with its challenges of fitting in to a new place. With the humor and humility she lives out in everyday life, she’s a friend you want to sit down and have coffee with, who would be fun to do a DIY project with, and who speaks to the hearts of real women everywhere.

Ruth Chou Simons

One part memoir and one part afternoon on the porch with a friend (with sweet tea in hand!), So Close to Amazing offers us fresh perspective on our own twists and turns in life . . . and delivers those life lessons through KariAnne’s signature wit and charm.

Brenna Stull

For the twelve years I’ve known KariAnne, she’s never done anything halfway. Anything she touches is always amazing! This book is no different. It is an engaging, creative blend of humorous sharing about a woman’s struggles on everything from fitting in to keeping faith. It will encourage you on your worst days, affirm you on your best days, and make you smile any day at all. You will join her journey from one adventure to the next and will most likely come away inspired for your next DIY project.

Ashley Mills

KariAnne’s book is a joyful mix of quips and sweet messages à la the friend you wish you always had. She says it like it is, combined with a little Scarlett O’Hara drama and appreciable humor for good measure. Just like an old house with lots of layers, she peels them back, revealing a profound life message with applicable truths underneath. Her book feels like the perfect afternoon with a familiar friend. Sitting together over a glass of sweet tea after a good flea market trip, she’s the one who says, “I’ll go first.” Friendship is something that happens when two people say, “Me, too,” and KariAnne has a way of reminding you that you’re not the only one. Her honest, real, relatable approach to life is refreshing for her audience in so many ways. So Close to Amazing had me in fits of laughter, paired with unexpected tears that come only when someone is so honest with their own struggles and unexpected twists in life. It’s here that she reminds us in her own one-of-a-kind way not to miss the little moments. Because it’s in the little moments that the most beautiful ones are unexpectedly found.

Melissa Michaels

KariAnne’s oh-so-relatable stories and hysterical tales of her everyday mishaps and grand adventures had me doubled over in laughter (while trying to keep the mascara from smearing down my face). The heart lessons found in the journey will inspire everyone who (like me!) finds themselves in this “so close to amazing” sisterhood.

Jennifer Dukes Lee

KariAnne doesn’t know it yet, but she’s my new BFF. She’s hilarious, honest, and the perfect kind of hot mess who lets you know you’re not alone. At the risk of stating the obvious, So Close to Amazing isn’t close to amazing. It is amazing. You’ll find yourself cheering for KariAnne through every mishap—and thanking God for loving each of us as we are. You get more than a book with So Close to Amazing. You get heartfelt stories, great DIY projects, and a new BFF.

Laura Putnam

Each page is filled with KariAnne’s genuine enthusiasm, mind-blowing optimism, and humble faith. It is an entertaining reminder of the power of believing you are amazing, even when you miss the mark by a little bit, and the power of remembering to put it in his hands.

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So Close to Amazing: Stories of a DIY Life Gone Wrong . . . and Learning to Find the Beauty in Every Imperfection 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Yvonne_G74 More than 1 year ago
We all get inspired at sometime or another to do something creative. It happens to me all the time. I find a craft idea on Pinterest or someone posts something on Facebook and I rush out and drop a bunch of money on the supplies I need. I get home, try it, don’t like it, and give the supplies away. Wasted money. Wasted time. I always try to remind myself I’m a writer- that is my creative outlet. KariAnne Wood decided she’d start creating the things she found on Pinterest one day as well. In this book about her dive into DIY she talks about her relationship with God, as well as her failures and accomplishments with DIY. It’s a book that teaches you that perfection is overrated and that you can be happy even on the days that you only make mistakes. I love that KariAnne includes the stories of how she decided to become the DIY maven she is, and also shares some of her original DIY projects within the pages of this book. It’s an excellent tome for anyone that wants to be a crafter by trade or as a hobby. It’s also a wonderful book of life lessons, self-help tips, and how God will always be there for you. KariAnne Wood writes the award-winning lifestyle blog Thistlewood Farms.
Pegster More than 1 year ago
I have been following KariAnne Wood's blog, Thistlewood Farms for years and have always appreciated her positive outlook and sense of humor. Needless to say, I was thrilled when she announced that she had written a book. This book made me smile as I recognized my own mishaps with DIY projects, tear up as I read some of KariAnne's poignant stories, and come away with a sense that we are all amazing in one way or another. This is truly an uplifting book. I loved it so much that I have ordered the audio book, which KariAnne reads herself, to accompany me on my next long road trip.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I received this lovely book as a gift. I read it all in one sitting! “So Close to Amazing, stories of a DIY life gone wrong…and learning to find beauty in every imperfection”. KariAnne Wood writes with an open heart and her infectious humor and Faith are on every page. Her stories will have you nodding in agreement. You will discover instructions for DIY projects from her stories of renovations, decorating and life’s chaos too. Wait until you read about the skirt! You will find so many quotable’s in her book you will want to invest in a bumper sticker machine. This is a book you will enjoy reading more than once and it is a lovely gift too. Enjoy
AndreaRCammarata More than 1 year ago
Don't let the title fool you... "Almost Close To Amazing" is not is AMAZING!!! It will make you you that warm feeling inside and ever other emotion you can think of. KariAnne Wood wrote this "amazing" book from the heart and her heart is made of kindness and love and it shows with every word. You are going to be able to relate to so many of the stories you read. You will be saying to yourself...that would happen to me about a million times. Her writing style is and loving...her stories are concise but filled with everything wonderful. You can pick up this book and read it from cover to cover or you can relish it like a delicious meal and take it slow...chapter by chapter. Whatever way you choose you are going to love it and you will want to read it again. You will probably find chapters that relate to other people in your life and I know you will want to share with them! So if you are looking for an amazing read...this is the book for you. I have a feeling that you will be seeing a lot of KariAnne Wood in the future! This book is also gorgeous ...every coffee table needs one and be assured that friends and family will pick it up and love it too. Everything about this book and it's heart warming stories is AMAZING! I wish I could give it more than 5 stars.
LynnMosher More than 1 year ago
Come sit by me, KariAnne constantly tempts. A bubbly Miss Sunshine with a heart of humble faith. With purple painted toenails. With blond curls bouncing. And with red lipstick marks left on her sweet tea glass. Grab your own cup of whatever, sit down with KariAnne, and breath in her engaging stories of so-close-to-amazing. One part memoir, one part DIY, and a whole chunk of uplifting chapters fill this inspiring book with life lessons. You’ll laugh out loud at her mishaps, you’ll shed a tear over her stories, and you’ll shake your head in agreement with every chapter and every sentence. No life is perfect and obstacles sometimes litter our journey, but KariAnne will let you know you are not alone in your so-close-to-amazing life struggles. And in the end, no, right from the beginning, she will convince you to believe in yourself and that you are an amazing person. You’ll want to be KariAnne’s best friend. This is an amazing book. Don’t miss it!
ADelightfulGlow More than 1 year ago
So Close to Amazing is one of my favorite reads so far this year! It gives opportunity to laugh at ourselves and to sympathize with our friends and know we aren’t alone when the dirty dishes crash all around us or we take a pot roast to garden club. {Or the equivalent of these things, but with our own personal details.} {Yep. You gotta read the book to find out more about crashing dishes and “The Roast That Went To Garden Club”.} So Close to Amazing is a super fun read. If you like to laugh and love to be inspired not to take yourself too seriously and have an empathetic heart for other people’s stories and feelings and emotions, you’ll totally be all about So Close to Amazing. You'll feel like you're chatting with an old friend and sharing coffee and chocolate. It is amazing! :)
Jennifer Carroll More than 1 year ago
Since laughter is considered the best medicine, it seems to me this book should be in the health section because every hysterical page will leave you feeling exhilarated, energized and filled with profound, unshakeable hope! Karianne leads us on a journey that is brimming with twists, turns, and guffaws that every single one of us can relate to, whether we'd like to admit to it or not. But rather than feel humiliated, we feel embraced and accepted. As if we have joined a sisterhood that we have searched for our entire lives and have finally found. Through her stories and DIY projects, we are set free to be ourselves, mismatched and imperfect though we are. Karianne reminds us in her delightful way that we are in fact a priceless treasure that is adored and loved by God. Thank you Karianne for writing a book that heals our world weary souls and gives us encouragement to carry on with a light and merry heart!
RubieLee More than 1 year ago
Hands down, this book was the most unexpected surprise of the summer. For starters, I had never actually heard of author, blogger, KariAnne Wood until I saw a friends repost of one of her Instagram posts. A few clicks later, I couldn't wait to read her book. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I knew it would be fantastic, and I was right! KariAnne Wood tells the story of her family's move from Texas to Kentucky in So Close To Amazing. Her story is about their move, making new friends, and the renovation of a truly amazing farm-house that I am pretty sure I would like to buy! After reading So Close to Amazing, I am certain KariAnne and I would be best friends. She is hilarious, genuine, and an original. She is the kind of woman I admire.  Not only did I retell some of her stories to my husband so he could laugh too (about blueberry pancakes..and a pot roast), but I also found myself inspired to furnish my sparse house in more creative ways.  My list of favorite books from this year is unusually short this year, but So Close to Amazing definitely has a spot at the top.  It is unlike any book I have read and I absolutely loved it! You can find more from KariAnne Wood on her blog  I requested a copy of KariAnne's book from Tyndale House publishers. I was not required to give this book a positive review. All opinions are my own and I have not been compensated.